Spring is the time of birth. Looking around we see the rebirth of nature in the buds and flowers blooming, and we see animals with their young at this time.
But for 1 in 5 women, fertility is not an easy journey and can be tumultuous and heart breaking as they try to start a family.
April 24-30 is Infertility awareness week, where women are called to share their stories with infertility to end the isolation of this struggle.
I wanted to take this time to talk about the leading causes of infertility, why we have seen a dramatic rise in infertility rates over the last 40 years, and dive into some ways to boost and support fertility naturally.
What Causes Infertility in Women?
Infertility rates have almost doubled since 1980, with an estimated 15% of couples having trouble conceiving.
Why have infertility rates risen? Besides structural issues with the reproductive system, some of the main factors in women’s infertility include hormonal imbalances, being over or underweight, stress, and age.
Many women are waiting until later in life to start a family, which can mean they may be less fertile than when they were younger.
However, factors such as poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyles, and exposures to hormone altering toxins through foods, products and environmentally play a huge role in this reduction.
We also have been living through a wave of unrealistic beauty standards which has led many women down the path of restrictive eating and over exercising which impacts health and ability to conceive.
Another big factor in rising infertility rates may be the boom in hormonal birth control use, which can significantly impact the natural hormonal cycles of many women.
The good news is many fertility issues can be helped by supporting good health and hormonal balance.
How to Support Fertility Naturally
1. Clean Up Your Lifestyle
Toxin overload is a major factor for many hormone imbalances. Eating clean– meaning whole, organic foods; sourcing non-toxic cosmetic, personal care, and household products, and limiting the consumption of alcohol will allow the body to reset and come back into balance.
2. Eat Plenty of Good Fats
Good quality fats are essential for fertility, and can help reduce inflammation, which can be a factor in fertility problems. Good sources of fats are avocados, nuts/seeds, grass fed dairy, fish, and pasture raised meats.
3. Get Plenty of Zzz’s
Irregular sleep cycles and not getting enough sleep can significantly impact hormones. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time, and limit blue light from screens for at least one hour before bedtime. Also aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. I know you think you can run on 5 hours, but your body knows otherwise.
4. Move Your Body Moderately
Movement is essential for a healthy body, but some studies have shown that women who over exercise may impact their fertility. It's important to not go until the point of exhaustion, but to still get the heart rate up and the muscles mobile and moving for about 30-60 mins every day.
5. Take Care of Your Stress
Stress is a major factor in the body’s ovulatory cycle. Things like over exercising or not eating regularly can cause physical stress that leads the body to believe it's not a safe time to conceive. Emotional stress also takes its toll, and taking steps to manage and reduce stress can help improve fertility. Talking with a trusted friend or professional, hitting up a yoga or meditation class, or spending time in nature are all great ways to manage stress.
6. Track Your Cycle
Tracking your cycle, either in a journal or a fertility awareness app can help you better understand your body’s natural rhythms and may help you pinpoint any areas in your life that need some adjustments to support a healthy cycle. Take note of how long your period lasts, when you ovulate, and how you feel during the different phases. This can also help you plan your lovemaking around your fertile window.
7. Eat Regular Meals
Making sure to keep blood sugar levels stable will help reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and also ensure you're getting enough calories and nutrients to support healthy ovulation.
8. Stay Well Hydrated
Proper hydration levels encourage healthy lubrication and soften the cervix, which can help the sperm better reach the egg.
9. Try Some Fertility Supporting Herbs and Supplements
Herbs have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to help support fertility. **Always consult a healthcare provider before including any herbal remedies in your diet as they are powerful and can potentially interact with other medication or health conditions.
- - a potent antioxidant for healthy fertility and egg quality.
10. Supplement Essential Nutrients
On top of a healthy nutrient rich diet, fertility can also be supported with a good multivitamin, Vitamin D and omega 3s to ensure essential nutrient levels are maintained.
These may sound like basic tips, but the foundation of a healthy body is the most important factor in fertility. It can take some time to rebalance, restore, and nourish the body. Building a healthy, happy family starts with the health of the parents, both mother and father but especially the mother as the growing little one will be feeding off of her nutrient supply. Infertility can be devastating to many when they may feel as though their body is fighting against them, but the body is actually protecting its survival by not conceiving when it is not resourced to handle the pregnancy. Reframing this can also go a long way in motivating from a place of love to create the safe, healthy circumstances for the body to create new life.